Remember that scene from Eat, Pray Love when Julia Roberts gets flustered at the Ashram in India? That’s what I associated with Kundalini chanting.
The first time I ever heard the term Kundalini used, I was watching a video by Australian Youtuber Chloe Szep. She discussed her newfound passion for this type of yoga in a vlog about her time in LA and her spiritual journey.
A quick google search told me that Kundalini was a type of yoga that involved chanting, dancing and to the Western World, was potentially perceived as being quite odd.
After researching the practice a little more and discovering all the psychological and physical benefits people talked about, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
As I walked to Soul Flow Yoga in Bondi Junction, I prepared myself to enter another realm (filled with Bondi Buddhists and hippy monks) and to some extent that’s exactly what I found. The lights were dimmed, and a gong stood proudly in the corner next to an image of an elephant on the wall.
While indeed there were some participants dressed in white linen and headscarves others donned their lululemon activewear. Upon arriving I was quickly greeted by Maya, the lovely Thursday night Kundalini instructor. As she welcomed and explained the structure of the class I immediately felt slightly more at ease.
At present, Soul Flow Yoga is doing a Week Spring Cleanse, which means each week the classes are centred around a different ‘body’. Apparently in Kundalini there are three mental bodies and six energy bodies, in addition to our physical body.
For my first class we focused on the Neutral Mind. Maya started the class by talking about the importance of fostering a neutral mind; a mind that doesn’t dwell on what could go wrong or what could go right, but instead focuses on exactly what is. Her sermon of sorts immediately grounded me and put me in a reflective headspace.
And then came the chanting. At
At first my focus was immediately consumed with trying not to laugh. But once I surrendered to the class and just accepted it for what it was, I found myself relaxing and chanting along too.
This particular class was definitely more of a mental exercise than a physical one. While there were some downward dog variations and physical movements, I found the mental side of the class much more challenging. As, I’m sure anyone with meditation experience can attest to, quieting the mind can be immensely difficult.
During the long periods of either silent or mantra meditation I had to keep re-centering my thoughts and reminding myself to be present. In saying that though, the chanting and the mantras were a very helpful way of giving the brain something to latch on to, and focus on, making it easier to re-focus wandering thoughts.
The second class I attended, a week later, went a lot better. The theme was ‘The Physical Body’, which meant there was more physicality and poses. As someone who generally prefers fast paced and intense workouts, I think I preferred this class for that reason.
Or perhaps, I could better embrace the class because it wasn’t quite so new and scary. The mantras were familiar, as were some of the exercises which meant it wasn’t quite as overwhelming and I found myself really getting into each exercise.
In terms of the benefits of Kundalini, I probably can’t comment after just two classes. However, from my experiences I certainly left feeling calmer (particularly thanks to the gong mediation) whilst also re-energised.
Psychologically, I can see why this practice is so beneficial. The importance of meditation and self-care is so well documented, and Kundalini provides its participants with the chance to stimulate and simultaneously challenge the mind in a safe space.
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